Daily Archives: April 4, 2009

Tom Blumer: Social Security Crisis to Arrive Six Years Early

A year ago, I wrote:

Think Social Security will be solvent until 2041? Think again. The next president will face rapidly growing problems by the end of his or her first term.

At the time, the concern was that the substantial Social Security surpluses we have experienced during the past 22 years would begin to shrink.

An updated version of a Congressional Budget Office chart I presented last year shows that the shrink has indeed begun…

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Politics in General, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Joe Nocera on the State of the U.S. Economy

Listen to it all from NPR. Note especially what he says about the so-called “Geithner plan” to rescue the banks. At some point it is going to dawn on more people that significant questions need to be asked about this plan and whether it is the right approach, since so many thoughtful industry participants and observers do not think so. But maybe that is just yours truly, since I am worried about the plan–KSH

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Bishop-Elect Forrester Replaces New Testament Reading with Quran Passage

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Islam, Other Faiths, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

Jenny McCartney : Dignitas and the awful truth about 'happy endings'

We are becoming more relaxed about death of late, it seems, or at least about the possibility that it might be ushered in a little sooner than expected. There is broad public sympathy for individuals who travel abroad to assist terminally ill relatives in their expressed wish to die. The former health secretary Patricia Hewitt recently proposed legislation to protect such individuals from prosecution, and the broadcaster John Humphrys wrote defending the right to euthanasia, using personal experience of deaths in his family to bolster his argument.

Then, last week, Ludwig Minelli suddenly spoke up, and there were sharp intakes of breath all round. Mr Minelli is the founder and director of Dignitas, the Swiss-based organisation that provides a team of doctors and nurses to administer painless deaths on request. He is also a radical on matters of death: he not only regards it as a human right, but appears eager to expand his client base.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Europe, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry

Dana Jennings: Life Lessons From the Family Dog

She is, I realize, “just” a dog. But she has, nonetheless, taught me a few lessons about life, living and illness. Despite all her troubles, Bijou is still game. She still groans to her feet to go outside, still barks at and with the neighborhood dogs, is willing to hobble around the kitchen to carouse with a rubber ball ”” her shrub of a tail quivering in joy.

I know now that Bijou was an important part of my therapy as I recovered from having my prostate removed. I learned that dogs, besides being pets, can also be our teachers.

Human beings constantly struggle to live in the moment. We’re either obsessing over the past (”Gee, life would’ve been different if I’d only joined the Peace Corps.”), or obsessing over the future (”Gee, I hope my 401K holds up”). We forget that life, real life, is lived right now, in this very moment.

I am a self-confessed dog lover so my attraction to the piece is understandable, but it is marvelously written. Our Toy Maltese sometimes falls asleep with all four feet in the air and his mouth partially open. I find it impossible to look at him in that posture without smiling, and often laughing. Indeed, last night my wife Elizabeth simply described his posture to me over the phone–he wasn’t even with me– and he was making me smile. I was just up visiting my brother and his wife who are invaluably helped, as is my Dad who is staying with them at the moment, by their two dogs. Here’s to pets who help us–KSH

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

William Rhoden: Released by Giants, Plaxico Burress Loses His Football Family

“I don’t think a player of his caliber can be replaced,” [Burress’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman]… said.

Will this hurt the team? Of course. Brafman noted Friday that “there are very few great players, and Plaxico happens to be one of them.”

That’s true: Burress was a pillar of the Giants’ offense, and the Giants could not compensate for his absence. No matter what they did, no matter how much they talked up the other receivers, Burress was the one whose presence helped the other receivers, helped the offensive line, helped the running backs.

But let’s talk about accountability. Does Burress’s ability to catch a football justify reckless endangerment, walking into a crowded club with a loaded, unlicensed gun and risking everyone’s life ”” yours, your child’s, my child’s?

Accountability–now there’s a concept. Read it all–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Doctors Are Opting Out of Medicare

EARLY this year, Barbara Plumb, a freelance editor and writer in New York who is on Medicare, received a disturbing letter. Her gynecologist informed her that she was opting out of Medicare. When Ms. Plumb asked her primary-care doctor to recommend another gynecologist who took Medicare, the doctor responded that she didn’t know any ”” and that if Ms. Plumb found one she liked, could she call and tell her the name?

Many people, just as they become eligible for Medicare, discover that the insurance rug has been pulled out from under them. Some doctors ”” often internists but also gastroenterologists, gynecologists, psychiatrists and other specialists ”” are no longer accepting Medicare, either because they have opted out of the insurance system or they are not accepting new patients with Medicare coverage. The doctors’ reasons: reimbursement rates are too low and paperwork too much of a hassle.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

NY Times: The Sudden Charm of Public School

FOR some young families who bought during the housing boom, having it all meant an affordable brood-sized apartment in possession of a good public school zone. But other parents in pursuit of real estate never even thought about schools. They assumed they would send their children to private school, often because they too had followed that route.

That was before the economic crisis. Now, as many would-be private school parents scramble for a good public school, there is a despairing recognition that in this respect, geography is destiny: With odds of being accepted into a popular school in another zone slimmer than ever, they either live in a neighborhood with a decent elementary or they don’t.

Renters and first-time buyers are in the best position to light out for better school zones with their young offspring. Meanwhile, landlocked owners ”” unable or unwilling to sell in a down market or to spend around $33,000 a year to send their child to private school ”” are panicking.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Marriage & Family

David Brooks: Greed and Stupidity

What happened to the global economy? We seemed to be chugging along, enjoying moderate business cycles and unprecedented global growth. All of a sudden, all hell broke loose.

There are many theories about what happened, but two general narratives seem to be gaining prominence, which we will call the greed narrative and the stupidity narrative. The two overlap, but they lead to different ways of thinking about where we go from here.

Read it all, and note that the first essay mentioned has already been posted on this blog.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Notable and Quotable

“We’re just sitting here all day long looking for jobs on the computer, frustrated and scared as hell…I’m looking for anything.”

Henry Pevez of New Jersey in a front page story from today’s New York Times about yesterday’s unemployment report

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Western New York Episcopal Search committee told to honor Resolution B033

(ENS) The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York has told a newly formed bishop search committee that they are expected to “honor the mind of the Episcopal Church regarding acceptable candidates for the episcopate as expressed through the General Convention.”

The Standing Committee said in a posting on the diocese’s bishop search website that the requirement referred to Resolution B033, passed by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in June 2006.

In Resolution B033, General Convention called upon standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction to “exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Realigning Anglican Parishes in Pacific Northwest Form new Diocese

At least eight conservative congregations in Western Washington ”” including two that left the Episcopal Church ”” are forming a new Anglican diocese in the Northwest.

The Cascadia Diocese, as it’s being called, is the latest local example of the deep divisions splitting the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion over issues such as Scriptural authority and church teachings. The differences erupted in 2003 when the Episcopal Church confirmed the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes

Integrity Commends Iowa Supreme Court

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

UCC leaders hail Iowa court decision legalizing Same Sex marriage

United Church of Christ leaders are hailing a unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court to reject the state’s ban on same-gender marriage as unconstitutional. Iowa now joins Massachusetts and Connecticut in becoming the third state to allow same-sex couples to marry.

“Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa are three states whose cultures were shaped profoundly by the Congregational experience,” said the Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC general minister and president. “I can’t help but believe and affirm that there is a connection at work here.”

The United Church of Christ has 179 local churches in Iowa, and Grinnell College – one of state’s most prominent liberal arts schools – is historically related to the denomination.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, United Church of Christ

RNS: Groups Mobilize to Keep Poverty a Priority

A diverse coalition of religious groups is launching an effort to maintain attention on America’s poor as Congress takes up the 2010 budget and the White House tries to reignite a sputtering economy.

The group, The Mobilization to End Poverty, plans to bring thousands of religious and community activists to Washington later this month to urge President Obama to make the poor a priority and continue his goal of reducing domestic poverty by half in 10 years.

Both are reachable goals, said House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., who joined religious leaders to kick off the effort on Wednesday (April 1).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Poverty, Religion & Culture

Living Church: Provisional Bishop Nominated for Quincy

The Rt. Rev. John Clark Buchanan has been nominated to serve as provisional Bishop of Quincy. Bishop Buchanan and other newly appointed diocesan leaders must be confirmed by delegates to a special reorganizing convention to be held April 4 at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Peoria, Ill.

Bishop Buchanan currently serves as the Parliamentarian of the House of Bishops. He was Bishop of West Missouri from 1989-1999, and recently completed a term as an assisting Bishop of Southern Virginia.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Quincy

From the Do Not Take Yourself Too Seriously Department: Science Answers

Here are actual answers students have given to explain scientific events and facts:

–When you breath, you inspire. When you do not breath, you expire.

–H2O is hot water, and CO2 is cold water….

A fossil is an extinct animal. The older it is, the more extinct it is.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Science & Technology

CSM: Iowa's top court brings same sex marriage to America's heartland

Iowa’s top court legalized same-sex marriage Friday, giving advocates a victory beyond the liberal coastal states into the more conservative American interior.

The supreme court justices drew explicit parallels to civil rights struggles by blacks and women, holding that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was a violation of the equality promised in the Iowa constitution.

“If a simple showing that discrimination is traditional satisfies equal protection, previous successful equal protection challenges of invidious racial and gender classifications would have failed,” the court said in its ruling.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

Design Group works on Anglican covenant revision

The group charged with “designing” a covenant that could be used as a unifying set of principles among the provinces of the Anglican Communion met March 30-April 3 in Cambridge, England to work on a new revision of the text.

“A completed revision of the proposed covenant has been finished, along with a commentary explaining our work,” the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, one of two Episcopal Church members on the Covenant Design Group, told ENS at the conclusion of the meeting. “We have taken seriously the array of responses received from the provinces and from around the communion and larger church.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant

Anglican Consultative Council to meet in Jamaica

The Anglican Consultative Council, made up of lay people, clergy and bishops from the 38 Anglican Provinces of the Communion, meets in Kingston Jamaica May 1 – 13, to consider among other things, mission in the 21st century, the future structure of the worldwide Church, and theological education.

The ACC meets approximately every three years under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who will give a presidential address on May 11.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Instruments of Unity

The Bishop of South Carolina Writes his Diocese

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings in the name of our merciful Savior Jesus Christ whom the Father has exalted to the place of all authority and who now lives to make intercession on behalf of his church: I write this Post-Convention Letter during the Sabbath pause of the Spring House of Bishops Meeting. I awoke early, the morning after the convention at first troubled. As I reflected on the events of our 218th Diocesan Convention there were those things I wished I hadn’t done, and those things I wished I had. Certainly I have been in such a place many times before as a parish rector””actually, as a Christian, for that matter””for it is the human condition isn’t it. As a young rector I used to stew about such things for quite some time. Now, I find the new challenges come so quickly, that after giving whatever time I can to self-examination, proper confession and absolution, (it is Lent isn’t it!), it seems best to just move on in grace-filled trust.

By the time this letter is sent to you I will have returned from the House of Bishops. We, in the diocese, have a lot of work to do. I am eager to get on with it. The two main dimensions of my vision for this diocese, as I described it in the Bishop’s Address, is my overriding commitment. It was my hope as I prepared for our convention that the Gospel Mandate and the call to make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age would dominate the landscape throughout all of our sessions. Yet as we entered into the debate on resolutions several things came to the forefront: 1) The controversies in our “National Church” *(see below) quickly took center stage. 2) These issues afoot in TEC have the power to threaten our ability to do the two key dimensions of the vision I have committed myself to and believe the diocese should fully embrace. 3) The parliamentary model is an inadequate process for a diocese to have the conversation which is needed at this time. 4) Resolutions from the floor, when not necessitated by recent developments, are not the preferable way to initiate serious debate. I write this last comment without pointing fingers, for the Standing Committee and I brought the first resolution to the floor and without sufficient time for the body to be able to fully understand its implications and reflect upon it. A layperson asked the question from the floor if the resolution (that the Standing Committee and I brought to the floor) was an attempt to unbolt the sidecar from the motorcycle””referring to the metaphor used in my Bishop’s Address. Had I excused myself from the chair I would have answered by saying, “It is a resolution to make sure the back wheel is not removed from the motorcycle!” But, back to the matter of resolutions from the floor, may I suggest that sometimes churches like families try to avoid needed conversations. When, however, the issues are brought up, albeit hastily, blame is assigned to the person who sought to have the needed conversation.

Of course we are in the middle of Lent. I remember well what that can be like for those of you who are rectors or vicars. So, while recognizing this, nevertheless, I will commit myself to find ways to have the conversations with many of you; first, in more intimate settings; then in more inclusive forums. Should anyone infer that these are primarily conversations to leave The Episcopal Church they would be mistaken. While nothing will be forbidden from the conversation, the purpose of our gatherings will be to discuss what it means to be””as our diocesan Constitution puts it””“The Church in the Diocese of South Carolina”¦.”

Faithfully Yours,

–(The Rt. Rev.) Mark Joseph Lawrence is Bishop of South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Massacre kills 12 at immigration center in NY

A gunman opened fire at an immigration services center in downtown Binghamton on Friday, killing as many as 13 people before authorities found him dead, officials said.

Gov. David Paterson said at a news conference that 12 or 13 people had been killed.

A law enforcement official said the body of the man believed to be the gunman was found in an office of the American Civic Association building. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the details of an ongoing hostage situation and was talking on condition of anonymity.

Makes the heart very sad–read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Violence

'Kind Of Scary': Congress Rewriting Rules Of Finance

U.S. Rep. John Campbell readily admits something not often heard from politicians in this economic crisis. When it comes to rewriting the rules of the financial system, the California lawmaker says he’s not sure where he stands.

“I’m not sure even in my own mind,” he says. “If I were king, I’m not sure what I would do at this point. And I don’t think I’m alone. This stuff is not easy.”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General